Gallery walk Reena Lath, 45, Owner, Akar Prakar Art Gallery

India Today - - COVER STORY - Pho­to­graph by SUBIR HALDER

“I re­mem­ber see­ing a Meera Mukher­jee sculp­ture at a friend’s place and ask­ing ‘what is this?,’” says Reena Lath, who runs the Akar Prakar Art Gallery with her hus­band Ab­hi­jit Lath. The cu­ri­ousity gen­er­ated by Mukher­jee’s sculp­ture opened her up to the world of art. Lath’s gallery turns 10 this year. “When we moved to Kolkata, all we knew was that we were tired of the same cut and dried busi­ness. We both wanted to do some­thing cre­ative,” she says. The Lath fam­ily had col­lected art for the past two gen­er­a­tions and were even known to be one of the ear­li­est own­ers of the late artist Ganesh Pyne’s work. When the Hindustan Park property came into their hands, open­ing a gallery seemed like the most nat­u­ral choice and Akar Prakar was born in 2004. “The first ex­hi­bi­tion of Laxma Goud’s paint­ings was out of our own pri­vate collection,” says Lath. Akar Prakar be­gan as just a view­ing gallery but the pub­lic at­ten­tion it drew gave the Laths the con­fi­dence to start re­tail­ing art as well. “We fi­nally fig­ured that it was time to step out and reach out to the in­ter­na­tional mar­ket and en­gage the govern­ment more,” she says. Akar Prakar is also one of the only three gal­leries in In­dia to show­case artist SH Raza’s work. No won­der then that the gallery was named as one of the best art gal­leries world­wide by BlouinArt­info.com. From a new­bie to some­one who’s work­ing on cu­rat­ing a Tagore collection, Lath has come a long way in­deed.

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